Police start armed patrols in London’s gang crime hotspots

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Scotland Yard is deploying armed patrols in gang crime neighbourhoods this week in a tough crackdown on youth violence.

Marksmen in armed response vehicles are being targeted to wards with high gang tensions and the highest number of gun discharges in the capital.

The move is part of a week long initiative to tackle a surge in gun discharges and gang crime offences in London.

Police say they are carrying out weapon sweeps, intelligence led stop operations and “directed patrols” by armed response vehicles.

Trident gang crime officers are also carrying out search warrants on gun crime suspects and using ANPR cameras to target criminals.

So far this week police have seized eight firearms, including two handguns and three sawn-off shotguns, four knives, two swords, 11 kilos of cocaine, three kilos of cannabis, one kilo of MDMA, four kilos of crack cocaine and heroin with a street value of £250,000.

Eight people have been arrested.

Detectives say Operation Kestrel is an extension of an earlier initiative launched against knife crime in June which has resulted in 6,000 arrests and led to 1,000 knives being seized.

The move comes amid concern about the number of teenage homicides in London this year and a resurgence in gang activity.

In another drive against firearms in the week after the Paris atrocity, police seized 17 guns – including a fully loaded Mac-10 machine gun found hidden in a house in north London, it was revealed today.

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Figures for the past 12 months show there were 349 gun discharges in London, compared to 303 in the same period the previous year, a rise of 15 per cent.

Police say the increase has declined from 22 per cent earlier in the year and include reports of heard gunshots as well as ‘non-lethal’ gun shots from weapons such as airguns.

The Stonebridge estate ward in Harlesden has recorded the highest number of gun discharges of wards in London.

Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth, in charge of the Trident and Area Crime Command, said : “This is a week of intensive activity to deter and disrupt criminals carrying firearms and to reassure the public that we are doing all we can. We are running this in tandem with a drive against knife crime.

“The whole point is to stop people hiding guns, this could be a life saved in the gang world or it could be a firearm laid down for an extremist operation.”

He added: “These will not be sweeping armed patrols but they are going to be intelligence led and targeted so we will go to areas which have the most number of discharges. “These are directed patrols and mean armed officers will be on hand if anything occurs but the prime aim is to deter. Villains recognise our armed response vehicles.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth, in charge of the Trident and Area Crime Command, said : “This is a week of intensive activity to deter and disrupt criminals carrying firearms and to reassure the public that we are doing all we can. We are running this in tandem with a drive against knife crime.

“The whole point is to stop people hiding guns, this could be a life saved in the gang world or it could be a firearm laid down for an extremist operation.”

He added: “These will not be sweeping armed patrols but they are going to be intelligence led and targeted so we will go to areas which have the most number of discharges. “These are directed patrols and mean armed officers will be on hand if anything occurs but the prime aim is to deter. Villains recognise our armed response vehicles.”

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